Our stay at Campsite Quinta Lala in Cusco is one we will remember. Surrounded by some 10-15 vehicles with overland travelers we are among kindred spirits.
We may have different nationalities and unique vehicles but we are all journeying up or down or around the Pan-American Highway. We exchange stories, give tips, share laughter. Part of that happens around bonfires, which during the last two weeks have become almost a nightly ritual.
On one of these nights Thomas asked me what were among the favorite things/gadgets we had brought on our journey. That got me thinking and the next day – during a grandiose barbecue – I decided to put that question to everybody. I made them a bit more specific:
- Favorite things / utensils: 1 kitchen related / 1 car or mechanic related / 1 miscellaneous.
- The stupidest thing they brought.
- What they should have brought.
I can’t guarantee that it will help future overlanders much in putting up their packing list together considering the contradictions we have, but who knows.
These are the answers I got:
Kimberley & Andy, fanatic surfers from Switzerland who are driving from Chile northbound.
- Favorites: “Vegetable peeler,” they both exclaimed as they were preparing vegetable skewers for the BBQ. Other favorites: a saw to cut wood for bonfires (bless them!) and disinfectant for hands.
- Stupidest: Italian espresso maker (compare this one with Blue Truck Thomas…).
- Should have brought: A zoom camera (e.g. to photograph wildlife) and quality camping chairs (the ones they bought in South America fell apart).
Wolfgang & Hille from Germany, with an impressive history of traveling, especially in Africa and South America.
- Favorites: A toaster / a hat / a mini hacksaw “To cut off bolds and such,” Hille explains.
- Stupidest: grill for fish (“We have never used it”).
- Should have brought: GPS.
Hendrik, a Belgian on his second long-term trip, driving south from the USA in a self-made Mercedes G-wagon (he built the camper unit himself, which is entirely from fiber)
- Favorites: Storage boxes for the fridge/spanner 13 / Coleman Stove to use outside (built-in stove inside, practical to have a second one for outdoor use, e.g. French fries).
- Stupidest: Canoe (“Everywhere I wanted to use it, I could have rented one.”).
- Should have brought: –
Bruno & Valerie are from San Martin (French-speaking island in the Caribbean).
They both had a hard time coming up with answers. They seem to have figured out exactly what works for them.
- Favorites: Valerie mentions her large pan. Both were glad to have brought brake pads as spare parts; they had needed them / Number 3 was a computer (laptop).
- Stupidest: “No, I don’t have one. I use everything”.
- Should have brought: An oven and a second solar panel (with battery).
Adam & Emily, Americans driving south with their 2-year-old daughter Colette in a Westfalia
- Favorites: food processor / socket wrenches / camera.
- Stupidest: “2 Frisbees,” they both exclaimed, which was followed by, “Maybe it’s time we ditch one…”.
- Should have brought: a kabote, which is a floating device that can function as boat as well as canoe.
Auer Family from France, with their three kids (age 13,10, and 5).
- Favorites: Large frying pan / Swiss knife (“I use it for everything because I’m too lazy to get the tools out,” David commented) / e-book (Orlane) but inline water filter for David.
- Stupidest: Pressure cooker (compare that with our list, see bottom).
- Should have brought: “Oh, I wish there was space for a washing machine,” which was followed by a sigh…
Matthew & Pascale are from Canada (Quebec) and had come south with their two sons Christopher (12) and Philippe (9).
- Favorites: tongs (“Sorry, can’t come up with anything better, but I use them all the time,” Pascale said). Other favorites: a multimeter and iPod for music.
- Stupidest: Propane power generator (“Never use it”).
- Should have brought: Blender to make juices (“Especially since Central America, where there is so much and cheap fruit”).
Additional idea: Bring a proper stick of Pritt glue and you can fix anything, even a LandCruiser
Sabine & Thomas, from Germany, previously journeyed through Asia driving a comfortable Mercedes bus and are now slowly heading south.
As Thomas had been working on his own list for a while, he came up with lots of things, among which:
- Favorites: Waterbottle for cold nights in bed/socket wrench & infrared thermometer & African hose adaptor/earplugs (“To be used during the day because the car makes so much noise”!).
- Stupidest: Boiler (“Uses too much energy; used it only once”).
- Should have: Better noise insulation & tires that can be bought everywhere.
‘Blue Truck’ Thomas from Switzerland, driving south, champion making rice salads.
- Favorites: Italian coffeemaker / manual winch (“In English also known as a ‘come along’,” Thomas added). Other favorites: heat exchanger so I have 6 liters of water for a hot shower (which was followed by an explanation that was gibberish to me, after which he tried once more with a drawing).
- Stupidest: salad dryer.
- Should have: –
Coen and I came up with the following:
- Favorites: Pressure cooker (read about it here) / Coleman Stove (read about it here) / down blanket (not having to sleep in sleeping bags every night is heaven).
- Stupidest: Storm Kettle, lots of space for a gadget to only boil water with.
- Should have brought: Oven and canoe. Both have been a discussed for the past 9 years. We bought the oven recently (read about it here), but the canoe is subject to debate.
Meanwhile, the party went on!
What’s the stupidest (and best) thing you brought on your journey? Be honest and share in the comment section below so we can all have a laugh!